After more than a century, Paris goes back in time: for the 2024 Olympics in the French capital, there will be swimming competitions organized in the Seine. 100 years later we will return to swimming in the famous Parisian river, precisely in conjunction with the most awaited sporting event.
One year after the awaited sporting event, a historic cleaning of the famous river that flows through the center of the French capital has entered its final phase, the pollution levels of which have already drastically decreased over the last 20 years.
The already anticipated program of the Parisian Olympic Games establishes that three Olympic and Paralympic events: triathlon, swimming marathon and para-triathlon, which will take place in the Seine. Also planned is the construction by 2025 of three outdoor bathing areas accessible from the pier.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo presented the three points on the Seine that will also be open to public toilets from summer 2025: they will be located near Saint Louis Island, at the eastern and western ends of the city.
In Paris, swimming in the Seine is back after 100 years
Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris and in charge of the Olympics, explained: "When people see athletes swimming in the Seine without health problems, they will be confident to start returning to the Seine.
It is our contribution for the future." In 1923 the authorities banned swimming, although an annual Christmas competition across the river was maintained until the Second World War. One major problem has been the 19th-century single-system drainage infrastructure, which combines water used by kitchens and bathrooms with wastewater from toilets.
In normal times these waters flow through a complex of underground tunnels to treatment centers in the suburbs, but, when it rains heavily, the system is saturated and the excess has to be dumped into the Seine. Improvements over the last 20 years have already led to a marked reduction in faecal bacteria entering the river.
For the opening ceremony, a flotilla of 160 boats will transport 10,000 athletes along a 6km stretch to the Eiffel Tower. Not only fish reintroduced by trade associations have returned to the Seine, but also molluscs, aquatic insects, sponges and shrimps.